STAMPS NOTES: Josh Huff hitting the ground running
It’s been too long since Josh Huff had been out on a football field catching passes in a real, live, competitive game.
He had a stint earlier this year in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football with the Arizona Hotshots, but he understandably “doesn’t really care for it” after the way that league folded.
Otherwise, though, the former Oregon Ducks and Philadelphia Eagles hotshot hasn’t really been part of a football team since 2017.
“It’s been a minute,” Huff said. “Just the chance to be around teammates again and compete at the highest level, I’m excited.”
Huff has certainly made an impression since arriving in Calgary for the start of training camp this year.
That’s not necessarily a surprise, given his pedigree. Search online and you’ll find stories ranking Huff among the very best receivers of the decade for the Ducks, and he was drafted No. 3 overall by the Eagles – who he played with for two years, before being released after a legal issue.
He floated around a few NFL teams for the next year and a half and then landed in the AAF, where he put up strong numbers before the league folded.
He’s certainly looked the part of a play-making receiver since arriving in Calgary, too.
In the Stampeders’ pre-season opener, Huff had two catches for 32 yards, including an acrobatic grab on a tipped pass from backup quarterback Nick Arbuckle. Even getting his hands on the ball was impressive, and Arbuckle explained afterwards the play might have been a whole lot bigger if it hadn’t been for the deflection.
“If that didn’t get deflected, it’s a 109-yard touchdown,” Arbuckle said. “We were so upset when we got back and looked at film.”
In the Stamps’ second pre-season game, Huff caught two passes for 15 yards.
It was enough to not only earn him a job with the Stampeders, but also earn a spot on the active roster.
Asked what the coaches had told him they liked about his game, it sounded like the post-camp feedback Huff received was extremely positive.
“Just my play-making abilities and my threat to push everything vertical,” Huff said. “Whenever I do get the chance to get the ball in my hands, I make something happen … and just my ability to do block in the game and do things for my teammates to get the offence going.
“I’m excited to be back on an active roster and move forward with my career.”
The Stampeders had to shuffle their offensive line a fair bit when starting right guard Brad Erdos went down early in training camp, but it looks like things have settled down a bit.
The left-side of the line is unaffected by the moves, but Ucambre Williams has been moved back to centre and Ryan Sceviour will start in Erdos’ spot.
As of Tuesday morning’s practice, it looks like Nila Kasitati is set to start at right tackle.
The second-year Oklahoma product played four games last year, two at centre and two at tackle.
“We think Nila is going a nice job,” said Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson. “(Justin Renfrow) has a bit of versatility but certainly (Kasitati) took more reps today and did a nice job.”
Justin Lawrence and David Brown are in competition for the sixth-man job that Spencer Wilson largely occupied last year.
“We do think Justin has at least got in the conversation, it’s really Justin or David,” Dickenson said. “Justin played pretty darn well in the last two game, so it’s still close, but we need Justin to step up. David also gives us that versatility at tackle, which Justin can’t do.”
Elsewhere on defence, it doesn’t appear the Stampeders have made a final decision on which Canadian will be starting at the safety position.
The job was split last year by Adam Berger, who has retired, and Tunde Adeleke, who signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in free-agency.
Currently, Royce Metchie and Courtney Stephen are competing for the starter’s duties, although they’re both likely going to get playing time this season.
“Courtney is more of a veteran, has more CFL experience,” Dickenson said. “And yet, Metchie has been with us longer, so it’s a really close battle right now.”
Tuesday was the first practice with the team that the Stamps are going to enter the regular season with, and even Dickenson admitted that, after training camp cuts, it takes a little time to adjust to how few players are still around … The Stamps were generally pretty pleased to hear the CFL had come to a broadcast agreement with Mexican TV station MVS. It should mean more money for players, and nobody’s going to be unhappy with that.